The Victim of Terrorism
Victimization is nothing new. Coping with the stress of captivity has been studied in considerable detail during and after World War II. Since the victim of terrorism is often a symbol of the government under siege, and since hostages released by terrorists have an immense audience provided by the media in the aftermath of a dramatic incident, these victims have an impact on public opinion and public sentiment that may be profound. A public that overreacts in outrage against the victims’ helplessness may precipitate harsh, simplistic counterterrorist measures. A public that joins the victim in identifying with the terrorist-aggressor may undermine the morale and confidence of the police. A public perplexed and alienated by the entire process may interfere with the bond of trust between government and governed that is necessary for the survival of democratic institutions. But, on the other hand, a public that is reasonably well aware of the repertoire of human responses that are effectively used by men and women under stress—even under the stress of terrorist threat and capitivity—such a public will be able to participate in rational decision making about national policy on terrorism. There is another obvious reason to consider the victims of terrorism. They suffer. And their suffering may be misunderstood or neglected when the tumult and drama of the notorious event have subsided. There are medically sound approaches in the diagnosis and treatment of such suffering that can and should be brought to bear on these cases.
KeywordsGallbladder Disease Democratic Institution Terrorist Threat Public Sentiment Hostage Situation
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